SACRAMENTO (AP) — Even with Tim Duncan sitting out to rest, the San Antonio Spurs had enough to get an easy win on the road for the third time in three nights.
The Spurs headed back to San Antonio after their fifth straight win overall and a thorough dismantling of three West Coast teams on consecutive nights, winning each game by at least 20 points.
Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal scored 17 points each, leading the Spurs to a 127-102 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night.
“Our best player (Duncan) doesn’t play and we still win by 20,” said Stephen Jackson, one of four reserves who scored in double figures. “It’s our preparation, giving every team we face respect, and going out and playing hard.”
The Spurs were coming off 21-point victories at Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers the previous two days and showed no signs of fatigue against the struggling Kings.
Using their reserves extensively all game, the Spurs beat the Kings in Sacramento for an eighth straight time and remained a half-game in front of Oklahoma City for the top seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder won at Phoenix on Wednesday night.
Duncan was given the night off to rest and it didn’t seem to matter. San Antonio had seven players in double figures, shot nearly 59 percent, had 26 assists, and only one player (Jackson) played 30 minutes or more.
“Everyone wants to be in a rhythm now,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “It’s too late in the season to lose a bunch of games when they really count at this point in the season. Being able to win down the stretch of the season, nobody would trade that.”
Tony Parker had 15 points and eight assists for the Spurs, who stretched the lead to more than 20 points early in the fourth quarter. Jackson, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili all had 13 points, and Danny Green scored 11.
Isaiah Thomas had 21 points and eight assists for the Kings, who have dropped eight of nine games. Marcus Thornton scored 20 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and nine rebounds, but fouled out with just under 8 minutes left in the game.
San Antonio had the lead for much of the first two quarters, then pulled away in the second half when they outscored the Kings 69-45.
“They are a tough team to play; they have (good) players at every position that can go in and be productive,” Thornton said. “And it’s not just on offense, it’s at the defensive end, too. That’s the mark of a great team.”
Ahead by 11 points after three quarters, the Spurs continued to shoot well to open the fourth. They started the quarter with an 11-3 run, which ended with a three-point play by Splitter to put San Antonio ahead 108-89 with 8:47 left.
“They executed better than us in the third quarter, that’s what happened,” Cousins said. “They ran their stuff to perfection and took us out of our game.”
No one would suggest that the Spurs are peeking ahead, anticipating the playoffs, which start late next week. A year ago, San Antonio won 61 games and had the best record in the West, but were beaten by Memphis in the first round of the postseason.
“The playoffs will be tough, every team in the West is very talented,” Parker said. “You try to be playing well this time of year. We want to stay healthy, stay fresh.”
The Kings’ owners, the Maloof family, announced at last week’s NBA owners meetings that they were backing out of a proposed downtown arena plan in Sacramento, which has put the franchise’s future beyond next season in doubt.
The Kings, who will miss the playoffs for a sixth straight season, have as many problems off the court as on it. Sacramento has dropped 13 of 16 games since March 20 and has the second-worst record behind New Orleans in the Western Conference.